Thanksgiving wines can be as varied as the meal, experts say

NEW YORK - Thanksgiving dinner includes more than just turkey, with ample helpings of vegetables, stuffing and cranberries, so wine experts say there is no perfect food-wine pairing for the traditional American feast.

But because it is a family celebration, Ed McCarthy, a co-author of "Wine for Dummies," said serving Champagne will impress guests as well as complement the meal.

"Opening the bottle of Champagne is a ceremony that brings together everyone in the group," he said in an interview.

Bottles of non-vintage Champagnes average $35 (S$45) to $45 in the United States. But Americans celebrating Thanksgiving in Paris this year can buy the bubbly in supermarkets, which are selling it for as little as $9.95 a bottle.

If Champagne is too expensive, experts suggest serving sparkling wines. Some of the major Champagne houses, Chandon, Roederer, Taittinger and others, make California sparklers that are about half the price of their French cousins.

Americans have also discovered Prosecco as sales of the Italian sparkling wine skyrocketed in recent years, says industry newsletter Impact Data. Sales of Italy's Moscato d'Asti and Spain's Cava have also risen.

Robert Mann, the new Australian winemaker at California's Newton Vineyard, plans to please a variety of palates by offering his guests both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Other experts suggested white wines such as Gewurztraminer, which goes well with spicy foods, or dry Rieslings that have a juicy steeliness to them as well as lots of floral notes.

For the reds, oenophiles Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, authors of "What to Drink with What You Eat" suggested Beaujolais - not so much the Beaujolais Nouveau that will be coming to shops around the world next week, as the Beaujolais Village.

Joshua Wesson, co-founder of the Best Cellars retail shops and now a wine consultant to restaurants, recommends dry sparkling Shiraz, because "it hits every note and has something for everyone."

Doug Frost, who is certified as both a Master Sommelier and a Master of Wine, has one golden rule concerning dessert wines - they should always be sweeter than the dessert. He suggests Port, Ice Wine, Sauternes or a sweet Riesling that would hold up well with pies.

Kevin Zraly, author of the "Windows on the World Complete Wine Course" now in its 30th edition, has a Thanksgiving tradition "to serve an Amontillado Sherry after the turkey" with fruit and nuts.